Thoughts On: End Of The Week Shorts #90


End Of The Week Shorts #90

Today's shorts: Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India (2001), Batman Ninja (2018), Rang De Basanti (2006), A Star Is Born (2018), Yardie (2018), Madagascar (2005), Rampage (2018), Ocean's Eight (2018), Bad Times at the El Royal (2018), Overboard (2018)

Truly spectacular; a cinematic great.

So simply and elementally human, Lagaan is an endless blast of character and triumph. This could not have been better structured and organised. Each and every character is given time and place to grow on you; even without exposition you can feel the stakes and conflicts, the symbolic weight of the narrative; Aamir Khan's presence as a hero is simply earth-shattering; an aesthetic wonder, this is a joy to be immersed in; the scale, the palpability of crowds, formulates an expressionist spectacle of moral depth; in total, a physically demanding masterwork. One can find imperfection in the character of Elisabeth and a little too much of a focus on her romance, but there is next to nothing to be faulted here. I implore any and everyone to watch this.

Batman invades a Power Rangers movie, and all feudal Japan can do is wonder what on earth they've got to do with the entire mess.

Batman Ninja opens snappily with a pretty fascinating premise, but all quickly reveals itself to be for nothing. The high concept simply seems to want to bring together the world of anime and comic books as to create opportunities for a hybrid style that is apparently supposed to support a whole film. The aesthetic result is somewhat spectacular, but the manner in which story and character suffer is ridiculous. With no depth or scope, no logical structure, Batman Ninja's narrative jumps between so-so action sequences at an absurd pace with little patience for the plot holes left in its wake. A waste of time through and through, I don't understand how someone wrote this.

After 1 unbearable hour, I had to tap out.

Each and every character is insufferable and self-righteously cliched in the most annoying, young adult manner. I could not bear the thought of three hours with the likes of Sue despite narrative arcs, character changes, etc, etc. This review cannot count for much but a warning: don't bother.


Cooper casts and directs himself into a world-class role; his character is so thoroughly human that the plot becomes predictable--not because of genre trope, but because of the clarity of his character's psychic being. Such is a thing of characterlogical mastery. However, Gaga beside Cooper only serves to accentuate his character's complex brilliance. Never facing hard questions, never caught in a psychological maelstrom around a question of herself (which is what Cooper's character is largely immersed in - how could she not tell?), for some reason appearing nude a bunch, Gaga's character is only ironically a star; a negative comment on such a phenomena. This deepens Cooper's character and does the film some service, but - especially seeing as the music isn't great - is a slight slap in the face of Gaga and her blind non-arc-having character. Much more could be said, but I'll end with: a brilliant movie - one that maybe doesn't understand itself or isn't generally understood very well (from what I can tell).

To fail to see, to fail to act - all in truth... the stuff of many stories.

Yardie confronts the timeless conundrum of the human soul struggling to see, hear or speak the truth and, simultaneously, act upon it. Stuck in tragedy, lied to by fate, deceived by circumstance, hoodwinked by being, our main character finds himself a spirit only partially present in reality for the crux of who he is lies in history - in his past. The manner in which this story is integrated into a time and place, London/Jamaica/the 1970s, is rather brilliant. And so whilst this does not articulate an age-old story to particular effect, it does present it intriguingly. Highly respectable.

I was in a bad mood when this started and, suffice to say, this did not lift my spirits at all.

With jokes and characterisation so stereotypical and depthless, it's easy to call this a kid's film. It is clearly trying to cater to adults, but I pretty much refused to register this; the 'adult jokes' are as smart as they are childish. I can't then say I have much respect for this film, but I will not hesitate in applauding the natural development of plot and character arcs. This narrative fits together like a puzzle; no need for much contrivance; that leads to that leads to that, and, in a dramatic sense, it works. Granted, there are many plot holes, but, narratively, this flows brilliantly.

In total, the genre elements are lacking, but the story pretty much saves this and keeps things interesting.

Fun; the destructive spectacle certainly provides and the elements of comedy and light-hearted character relations build something worth attaching to, but, Rampage suffers from its conventionalism. I cannot name one sci-fi or fantasy movie that doesn't background its spectacular, other, characters and foreground humans. This is, one could say, the dominant 'human cinema'; a cinema that understands it can only ever explore questions of humanity, but confronts this with a mind-set far too literal. In over-emphasising the place of actual humans as opposed to the humanity in the creatures of this narrative, Rampage only manages to give itself problems that make ever more silly the bombastic drama that this is. Plot holes and lapses in logic are then in abundance. The antagonists are terribly pointless - reduced to comedic deaths by the end - and greater thematic questions are simply never asked. In short, Rampage, like every other titan movie, hasn't the courage to break harmful convention. It is, however, very watchable.

Solid. It's business from the start; plot leads the way, characters are distinct enough (none are really explored in much depth, but such is not necessary - their comedic purposes are apt) and everything in the technical department works well. Whilst spectacle's focus (fashion, jewellery, etc) is not very eye-catching to me, I very much so appreciate the directness and simplicity of Ocean's Eight. More precise than I remember any of the other films in this series being, there is little time wasted on side-stories, romances, action sequences, double-crosses and more. What happens happens, we go along on the ride and then the movie claps its hands clean. Very much so appreciated. Not award-worthy, but a good movie.

Tonal perfection, Bad Times at the El Royal is my favourite film of the year so far.

To what degree can you not know someone, can time be murky and space dark? How far down does the void go in every stranger who passes? How uncanny it is that light pulls one away from all that is sable whilst simultaneously revealing the infinite ink from which you have just emerged. As unfathomable as chance may be, as the realm of shadows seems, good - what you may call light - manages to pierce all. And the harmonic bliss that persists - angelic as the hardy traveller is full of potential. The point: good does not merely trump evil, good is deeper than evil, and only redemption can reveal such truth.

I don't know how I found myself watching this, but, despite its shoddiness, I was hooked from start to finish.

The performances are bad, the writing is cliched and goofy, but there is something enticing about this film. I can't say that it is the characters, but something about their circumstance and journey is uncannily harmonious. That isn't even to suggest that the film's message completely makes sense. At the very least, this is just dramatically cohesive. But, over all, I'm lost as to why I enjoyed it. Low quality, high visibility fun, Overboard somehow works as a sentimental, cheap melodrama; try it if you dare.

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